Social Media’s 7 Deadly Sins

“Wanting people to listen, you can’t just tap them on the shoulder anymore.  You have to hit them with a sledgehammer, and then you’ll notice you’ve got their strict attention.”

-John Doe, Se7en

Everybody makes mistakes.  Sin is defined as “any reprehensible or regrettable action” by  If you’ve never made a mistake or done anything you regret, stop reading this post now and go write a book because we all have many things to learn from you.

Most of us make mistakes, but what is important is how you respond.  One defining characteristic of any successful person is the ability to self-correct.  If you can see what you are doing and see what isn’t working and fix it yourself, you are on the right path.  I think it was Albert Einstein who said, “the definition of ‘insanity’ is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results,” and he was a pretty smart cookie.

When David Fincher released his film Se7en in 1995 it shocked a lot of people.  We all had heard of the seven deadly sins, but until 1995, none of us had seen how harmful they could actually be when used for malicious purposes.  It was a wake-up call as well as a fantastic movie.  It’s hard to not get invested in that movie.

Recently, I saw this list (The Seven Deadly Sins of Social Media) created and presented by Holly Grenvicz (@hollygrenvicz) and the wonderful people at Werkshop Marketing during their monthly Werkshop DIG in Nashville.  I couldn’t get it out of my mind and wanted to share it because I thought you could benefit from it the way that I have.  I’ve heard that is someone has already said it best, don’t try to improve on it, so now, I present to you:

“The Seven Deadly Sins of Social Media

1. Lust: Loving your customers is great, but take it slow. In the ribald days of 2006, a business would sign up on Myspace and then start “friending” everyone with a pulse. These days, lusting after fans like that will get you labeled as desperate–or even as a spammer. So keep it in your pants and truly get to know the first people who connect with your brand. In return, they might just love you for life.

2. Gluttony: Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Once companies decide to take a seat at the social media table, the often dig in with gusto. The downside: They want to be everywhere at once, spreading themselves across the Web instead of being strategic and focused. You don’t need accounts on all social networks–just the right ones.

3. Greed: It’s hard to shake hands while you’re reaching for someone’s wallet. We’d all like to make money through social media, and if your business is strong, it’ll happen. But if all you do on your Twitter feed or Facebook page is spout off sales messages, no one’s going to stick around. Be yourself. Be helpful.Be a good listener. Then the money will come to you.

4. Sloth: Always avoid the temptation to “set it and forget it.” Starting a blog or creating a presence on a social network? That’s easy. Keeping it alive and growing? That takes commitment, adaptability and good-old effort. You would never open a storefront, then close shop two weeks later because of low turnout. Go for the long term, and plan accordingly.

5. Wrath: There are a lot of people out there itching for a punch in the nose, but you’re not the one to give it to them. Once you’re active online, you’re bound to get a few critics. Some will offer valuable feedback. Some with shout obscenities. You won’t have a hard time telling the difference, so focus on the ones who deserve a response. And no matter what, never lash out. Your scathing “private” e-mail will probably end up on 100 blogs before breakfast, and the Internet has a long (if not infinite) memory.

6. Envy: Don’t be dissuaded by other people “doing it better than you.” Someone will always have more followers, more blog comments, more write-ups in Wired. Focus on who you are and what your business has to offer, not on what the other guy is doing. And when you must steal an idea (because hey, it happens), find a way to make it so much bigger and better, no one can even recognize the original.

7. Pride: Stay humble, rock star. Successful social media really is easier than you’d think. If you plan ahead, pace yourself and listen more than you talk, you’ll strike a chord with existing customers and potential fans alike. It will open new opportunities and enhance your brand in ways you never imagined. But don’t let it go to your head. There’s always more work to do.”

And that pretty much sums it up.  Drop Werkshop Marketing a line if you like the article, I know I did.

It’s inevitable that we will screw up somehow in our social media efforts, but if we all try to keep these 7 ideas in our mind, maybe we can at least avoid the wrath of John Doe’s justice, oh, and maybe even grow our brand a little online in the process.



About Joey Strawn

Digital marketing sociologist and public relations specialist with experience on national and local campaigns with a love for film and the things it says about our culture and business. Joey is the Senior Social Media Strategist at ISM in Nashville, TN and is in the business of helping people and companies deal with the new universe of social media in their marketing and PR endeavors.
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2 Responses to Social Media’s 7 Deadly Sins

  1. another great one about how to and how not to do it 🙂 thanks for linking to this article from your “mogwais”. Ok you convinced me now, it was not a one-time-thing… I have already hit the subscribe-button 🙂

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